Friday, February 21, 2014

What We Pass By Every Day

There are everyday miracles and wonders all around us much of the time. There are wonders to be found even in cities where the marks of feet trampling the ground tend to obscure the unique elements of a place until it seems that everything is the colour and shape of footprints. One of the ways we see these wonders is to get into our kayaks and visit urban waterways. Some of these places have made us crow with delight. I'm thinking in particular of days spent paddling on the Humber River in Toronto (read about my trip here) and the New Credit River in Mississauga (read here) and Toronto Islands (here are links to Bernie's and my blog posts on paddling here) where one is never really out of sight of the city.
Bernie took this photo of a swan in June 2006 while paddling Toronto Harbour!
Then there are also days we paddle on the Gorge, along the suburban shores and up the little streams where in some places the parkland is so lush that it's hard to remember we're right in the middle of a city, not on its edges. Or days we paddle at Discovery and Chatham Islands, where in places it's impossible to believe we're not in a wondrously isolated wilderness, but really only a mile from Oak Bay's tearooms.
Now I'm reminded that there are everyday miracles and wonders to be found in most places. Take Drumheller, Alberta, for example. It was the end point for my kayaking trip on the Red Deer River. I've walked through much of Drumheller on a few visits, and can report that there's a layer of amber-coloured dust over almost everything in town. The marks of footprints are everywhere that isn't paved. And in one well-trampled part of town, what looked like a bumpy rock turned out to be a dinosaur skull.
To be fair, after fossilization it was also a bumpy rock. How many dinosaur fossil fans have trodden on this big ol' fossil in recent years? No one knows. I figure this is a lesson to us all, to be aware of wonders and miracles underfoot and all around us. Instead of dividing the world into "Exciting Places" and "Oh Well -- Dull Old Home" let's be ready to keep urban paddling part of our expeditions, and practise our rockhound skills at home as well as in the field in distant places.

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